On March 1, 2021, the United States Department of Agriculture which oversees the United States Forest Service made the following announcement on its website (https://www.resolutionmineeis.us) regarding the Resolution Copper Project.
On Jan. 15, 2021, the Tonto National Forest released the Resolution Copper Project Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and draft Record of Decision (ROD) for objection. In the time since these documents were released, the Agency and Department have received significant input from collaborators, partners, and the public through a variety of means. Today, USDA directed the Forest Service to withdraw the Notice of Availability and rescind the Final Environmental Impact Statement and draft Record of Decision. The pre-decisional objection period will be halted as well.
The project is proposed on Oak Flat, a site sacred to numerous Federally Recognized Tribes in the Southwest. The Department is taking this step to provide an opportunity for the agency to conduct a thorough review based on significant input received from collaborators, partners, and the public since these documents were released. The recent Presidential Memorandum on tribal consultation and strengthening nation to nation relationships counsels in favor of ensuring the Forest Service has complied with the environmental, cultural, and archaeological analyses required. USDA has concluded that additional time is necessary to fully understand concerns raised by Tribes and the public and the project’s impacts to these important resources and ensure the agency’s compliance with federal law. USDA and the Forest Service also understand that under federal law that the Forest Service has limited discretion related to protection of Oak Flat. Long term protection of the site will likely require an act of Congress. USDA and the Forest Service cannot give a precise length of time for completing the re-initiation of consultation but consultations such as this generally take several months.